Treating mild strokes with a clot-busting drug usually reserved for more severe strokes could prevent disability and reduce costs, according to a study released at the International Stroke Conference this week.
Researchers at the University of Cincinnati say the move could save $200 million annually on disability costs, and leave fewer people with the disabling after-effects of a stroke.
Doctors currently use the drug, an intravenous tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), to treat people with strokes caused by blood clots, known as ischemic strokes. It has been proven to reduce disability rates in patients with acute strokes, but has not yet been tested on those with mild stroke, as researchers believed such strokes did not often cause lasting damage, and the drug carries some risk of brain bleeding.
"Leading stroke centers vary on how they treat mild strokes. Doctors often assume that people with mild deficits will get better with time, but it's hard to know. They do have more disability than the term 'mild' suggests," said lead the researcher on the study, Pooja Khatri, MD, an associate professor in the department of neurology at the University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center.